Winston Churchill Biopic, Darkest Hour Production Begins

Gary Oldman will be starring as Winston Churchill for director Joe Wright in Darkest Hour, which has begun production in the U.K. Focus Features holds worldwide rights to the Working Title Films production as part of the company’s renewed global initiative. Focus will release Darkest Hour domestically on November 24th, 2017 in the U.S. and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the film globally, beginning with the U.K. on December 29th, 2017.

The original screenplay of Darkest Hour is by Anthony McCarten, an Academy Award nominee and BAFTA Award winner as screenwriter of Focus and Working Title’s Best Picture Oscar nominee The Theory of Everything. Mr. McCarten and Academy Award nominee and BAFTA Award winner Lisa Bruce (The Theory of Everything) are producing Darkest Hour with Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and BAFTA Award winner Douglas Urbanski (Nil by Mouth), reteaming with Focus and Working Title following Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, for which Mr. Oldman was a Best Actor Oscar nominee.

The filmmaking team includes costume designer Jacqueline Durran, an Academy Award winner for her work on Mr. Wright’s Anna Karenina for Focus and Working Title; production designer Sarah Greenwood, who has received Academy Award nominations for three previous movies directed by Mr. Wright (Anna Karenina,Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) for Focus and Working Title; composer Dario Marianelli, an Academy Award winner for scoring Mr. Wright’s Atonement for Focus and Working Title; director of photography Bruno Delbonnel, a four-time Academy Award nominee; editor Valerio Bonelli (Florence Foster Jenkins); make-up and hair designer Ivana Primorac, who has collaborated with Mr. Wright on four previous movies including Focus’ Hanna; and two-time Academy Award nominee Kazuhiro Tsuji, who will be prosthetics designer on Darkest Hour.

Within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history. 

Joining Mr. Oldman in the cast are Stephen Dillane, John Hurt, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

The company’s commercial and critical hits include The Interpreter, About a Boy, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Fargo, Dead Man Walking, Bean, High Fidelity, Johnny English,Billy Elliot, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Pride & Prejudice, Nanny McPhee, United 93, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Burn After Reading, Frost/Nixon, Atonement, Senna, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anna Karenina, Les Misérables, I Give It A Year, About Time, Rush, The Two Faces of January, Trash, The Theory of Everything, Legend, Everest, The Program, The Danish Girl, Grimsby, and Hail, Caesar!

Working Title’s slate includes Bridget Jones’s Baby, directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Patrick Dempsey; The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Val Kilmer; Baby Driver, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Lily James, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx; and Victoria and Abdul, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

In addition to Victoria and Abdul and Darkest Hour, current and upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Kubo and the Two Strings, the new family event movie from animation studio LAIKA, directed by Travis Knight with a voice cast that includes Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, and Matthew McConaughey; Tom Ford’s romantic thriller Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival; the real-life story of heroism The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro and starring Jessica Chastain; Colin Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry, starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, and Jacob Tremblay; Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning; the action spy thriller The Coldest City, directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy; the untitled new film from Paul Thomas Anderson starring Daniel Day-Lewis; J.A. Bayona’s visually spectacular drama A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson, which world-premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival; and Jeff Nichols’ Loving, based on the love story of Richard and Mildred Loving, portrayed by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, which world-premiered at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival.

Focus Features, Universal Pictures International, and Working Title Films are part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

(Photo: Focus Features)